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Tribes aid in terrorist attack relief efforts

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The nation's American Indian tribes have done more than react to the unprecedented terrorist bombings in New York and Washington, D.C.

Several tribes and American Indian organizations stepped up to donate money, blood and other goods required for rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the terror stricken locales.

The Morongo tribe, which issued one of the first statements of any organization in California, met with the Red Cross within 24 hours of the attacks to donate $25,000 to that organization to enable it to fly a disaster squad to New York.

Additionally, Morongo also got together with a local blood bank to stage a large-scale blood drive on the reservation for those who may need it at the disaster sites.

"I've never seen anything so moving," said Waltona Manion, a public relations specialist for Morongo. "The Red Cross workers were crying as (tribal vice chairwoman) Luanne Martin gave them the check."

Morongo tribal councilman Robert Martin said the decision was made immediately. He said his tribe has a long tradition of assisting in disaster relief and pointed to a donation made to Mexico City in 1985 when Morongo had nothing more than a "bingo hall operation."

Martin said he feels this gesture is particularly important for the tribe. "One thing about our country is when we have a tragedy of this size, we all come together, It doesn't matter what race you are.

On another note, Martin said Morongo Tribal Chairman Maurice Lyons remained in Washington, D.C., where he was at a tribal leader's conference.

Several other tribes and American Indian organizations donated money to the relief effort. Rumsey Rancheria led the pack with $200,000 for relief efforts.

"I'm not going to offer a comment on this. The tribe did not do this for publicity. Publicity of any kind is not what the tribe wants. Several members were deeply affected by this," said Jorgi Boom, a Rumsey spokeswoman.

Pechanga.net, which post daily links to American Indian news stories also chipped in $1,000 to aid the effort. Site owner and operator Victor Rocha said he could not just sit back and not do anything.

"Always remember, there's the word 'American' in 'American Indian' and that about says it all. It's just really amazed me how many tribes have stepped up to the plate in such a big way. The tribes are in solidarity with each other and the rest of America," Rocha said.

Other tribes which made significant donations are as follows: The Prairie Band Potawatomi nation has given $100,000; the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Berry Creek and Table Mountain Rancherias each donated $25,000. Additionally the Coeur d'Alene tribe of Idaho and the Washington state-based Nooksack tribe donated $10,000 and $1,000 respectively.